Are Real-Life Interventions Like the Show Intervention?

Intervention: The Reality Show vs. the Reality

I've come clean before about my addiction to the TV show Intervention. Though I've mostly weaned myself from regular Monday viewings, I caught last night's episode about a dad addicted to crack, and the old familiar format made me wonder: is a real-life intervention anything like the show Intervention?

Based on my extensive viewings, I identified five common factors on every episode of Intervention, then did a little research to see if this stuff actually happens in real life, not just reality TV. Turns out, the TV version isn't all that far-fetched, so read more.

  • It's a family affair. Though there are different types of interventions, the family intervention is the most common. It typically involves several of an addict's family members and close friends in a carefully planned event led by a counselor or intervention specialist.
  • It's a surprise. Though many interventions employ surprise, not all are sneak attacks. Sometimes, rather than holding one big event, the process will be more gradual, stretched out over several days.
  • Everyone reads letters. Having friends and family share personal stories, memories, and proof of how the addiction is negatively impacting their lives is indeed a common thread through interventions.
  • The addicts admit they are addicts. On Intervention, the subjects have agreed to appear in a documentary about addiction and let cameras follow them for several days. But in real life, many addicts won't admit they have a problem, and with the lack of documentary proof, denial can be the biggest obstacle.
  • The addict has to leave right away. In most cases, the people staging an intervention have arranged treatment for the subject, though not all interventions are so structured.

Have you ever been involved in an intervention? If so, what was it like?

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